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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

cinematic roots of: ‘Red’

No movie springs from a vacuum. There are always influences from past examples of the genre, from the previous work of the filmmakers and stars, even from similar films that don’t quite work. If you want to understand where a movie is coming from, take a look at where it’s coming from.

In Red, retired super secret agents including Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, and Morgan Freeman come out of retirement — unofficially — to investigate a nasty coverup at the highest levels of government of a terrible crime. This flick sprang from (among other films):

The Whole Nine Yards (2000), a far less entertaining action comedy in which Bruce Willis plays a retired mob assassin; it’s supposed to be funny, but it isn’t.

Shoot ’Em Up (2007), for a genuine action comedy with lots of hilarious, outrageous violence; this is like a Bugs Bunny cartoon with automatic weapons (starring Clive Owen as Bugs).

Prime Suspect (1991-2006), for more Helen Mirren as a badass; in her starmaking turn as DCI Jane Tennison in the British TV series, she’s a cop hardboiled enough to stand up to the guys..

Flightplan (2005), for a taste of what director Robert Schwentke has done before; but be prepared to be underwhelmed by his first crack as a suspenseful action flick.
Where to buy:
Flightplan [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Prime Suspect: The Complete Collection [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Shoot ’Em Up [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
The Whole Nine Yards [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]

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